Jacksonville firefighters honored for high-rise rescue

City Council recognizes members of JFRD Special Operations Team

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council took time Tuesday evening to offer a framed resolution honoring some special firefighters.

All 19 members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department's Special Operations Team that was honored were involved in a high-angle rescue in February at the BB&T Bank Building.

Three workers were on scaffolding that broke free. Two of them were dangling from the near top of the downtown office building. All three made it off the building alive.

The City Council played video showing the rescue and recognized the entire Special Operations Team that responded Feb. 19.

"I just want to say thank you," JFRD Fire Chief Kurt Wilson said. "They don't do it, you know, for whatever reason you think. It's a calling for them. It truly is."

There was some laughter and lots of cheers at the ceremony.

"The 19 men of the rescue service team, thank you very much," City Councilman Tommy Hazouri said. "New meaning to firefighters having your back."

But the video played recounted tense moments at the building. During the rescue, the battalion chief in charge of the Special Operations Team took over from the tension, leading to a life-saving performance.

"You know, they get jobs done. But they all want to go over the edge. But sometimes you got to be the guy that's holding the rope. Teamwork is very important when you're doing things like this," said JFRD Battalion Chief Jack Griggs. "I can't tell you how proud I am to be the leader of these guys. These guys, like I said, we're kind of a family, brotherhood, sisterhood in the fire department. You know, we have our days when we argue with each other just like brothers and sisters do. But I'm extremely proud of these men and women and the Special Operations Team and on I'm very honored Chief Wilson chose me to lead them."

That leadership and training led to the special recognition by a grateful City Council. 

Individual firefighters did not speak in council, but the resolution "honors and commends" the team and says, "especially Firefighter Donald Murray and Engineer James Estes for their bravery and skill."


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